Iran's vice president drops out of presidential race to support Rouhani

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf quit the Iranian presidential race on Monday, backing instead conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi in Friday's vote.

Mayor of Tehran Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a figure in the principlist political faction who struggled to drum up support for his presidential campaign by hammering Rouhani, chose to quit the race on Monday in favor of Raeisi.

This time around, establishment conservative hardliners who want to unseat Rouhani are mainly placing their trust in Ebrahim Raisi, a jurist and Shiite cleric who studied at the feet of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karoubi, under house arrest since 2011, announced his support for President Hassan Rouhani who is seeking a second term in Friday's election.

He further expressed hope that Rouhani will win the election by a landslide so he could improve the country's future.

Two other candidates, conservative Mostafa Mirsalim, a former culture minister, and centrist Mostafa Hashemitaba, a former head of the Iranian National Olympic Committee, remain in the race, with Hashemitaba saying that he will vote for Rohani.

Qalibaf had been under pressure from fellow hard-liners to fall in behind Raisi.

Some have speculated that Mr. Qalibaf could serve as a vice president in Mr. Raisi's administration.

It's unclear how much support Qalibaf enjoys today.

The president has faced a significant challenge from conservatives because the landmark nuclear deal with world powers that he negotiated in 2015 has not triggered the economic recovery he predicted.

Rouhani, a pragmatist cleric, was elected in 2013 by 51 per cent of votes on promises to ease Iran's global isolation and end the house arrest of opposition leaders.

The former prosecutor is now head of a multi-billion-dollar charitable foundation that manages donations to Iran's holiest shrine in the city of Mashhad. If the then six-candidate field was reduced to the pair, 48 percent of respondents would vote for Rouhani and 39 percent for Raisi, according to the survey released on May 10.

Raisi's human rights record has troubled many.

Non-nuclear sanctions on Iran include the USA primary sanctions that were devised following the 1979 hostage crisis and now grapple the country's banking ties with other countries.

  • Leroy Wright